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Local bookstore reopens in historic location
by Christine Fonville
September 05, 2013 04:04 PM | 1968 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, Speakeasy Bookstore owners Don and Shannon Cannon.
Staff / Katherine Frye. From left, Speakeasy Bookstore owners Don and Shannon Cannon.
Residents can get history with their hot coffee at the newly renovated Speakeasy Bookstore at 26 East Main St. in downtown Hampton.

Owners Don and Shannon Cannon opened the bookstore, formerly down the street at 5 East Main St., last month after extensive remodeling work to its interior.

“We had to remove the carpet, replace the ceiling, build bookshelves and a coffee bar,” Cannon said.

The unique name for the business – still emblazoned on its former storefront – comes from a space underneath the store where an illegal bar operated during Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933.

“There is an elderly Hampton native who told us, while we were fixing up the store, that she remembered her father sneaking down to the speakeasy for a drink in the ’20s,” Cannon said.

The Cannons decided to move their store further north on Main Street because their original building was sold and is being transformed into the Smokin’ Swine barbecue restaurant.

“Our new location is comparable in size to the old store, but now we have Wi-Fi and we plan to emphasize our coffee more,” Mrs. Cannon said.

The Cannons have other plans for future renovations as well.

“Eventually, we’d like to have an outdoor patio area as well as live music, poetry readings and more lounge seating,” Mrs. Cannon said.

The owners also plan to reveal the downstairs portion of the building, where the secret speakeasy once dispensed bootleg liquor, as a café with a bar area.

“We’d love to have period stuff from the [Roaring] Twenties to decorate the place and maybe even have a secret knock or password to get in,” Cannon said.

The owners, who completed the first phase renovations with the help of family and friends, said they could not have completed the work they have done so far to the building without assistance from the community.

“Members from Restoration Church helped us clear out all the old debris and some local residents are using some of the old wooden planks from the ceiling to make a table for a needy family,” Cannon said.

Although the couple plans on doing the rest of the renovations themselves, Cannon said a contractor estimated the improvements would cost $35,000 if they were to hire a company to do the work for them.

“We’re hoping to comfortably seat about 40 to 50 people once the three phases of renovations are complete,” He said.

The bookstore’s hours are Monday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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